Lazy bones – October

Last month our member of the London Assembly, Onkar Sahota, only managed to ask one written question out of 505 asked that month. This month he has upped his work rate a little and is asking 8 out of 485 questions.

His first is on a subject that is important to all of us but unfortunately one over which the London Mayor has no influence – the current NHS reconfigurations that are dropping out of Labour’s £20 billion Burnham Challenge programme.

He is also asking a slightly obscure question about the redevelopment of the Bow Street Court building:

Finally he asks six questions inspired by Ealing Transport for All:

Sahota is paid £53,439 a year to perform a specific function on behalf of the 600,000 population of the boroughs of Ealing and Hillingdon. That function is scrutiny. Questions, which have to be answered promptly, are the main mechanism by which assembly members can hold the mayor to account.

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6 Responses to Lazy bones – October

  1. Eric Leach says:

    So Phil, can I conclude that you won’t be voting for him at the next GLA elections? Or do you expect him to stand down now because of the lack of performance exposed by your good self?

    I’m no fan of the man but his question about Boris’ silence on the NHS NW London debate is a good one. Is it credible that Boris has no view whatsoever on the future healthcare provision of 2 million Londoners across a 100 square mile area?

  2. Phil says:

    Eric,

    Sahota is paid £53,439 to hold Boris to account. My service is free!

    Neither man came off well out of yesterday’s exchange.

    Sahota would have been pleased that he got Boris to admit that he hadn’t personally responded to the consultation. Boris would have done better maybe if he had congratulated the 15,500 people (Wow!) who did respond to the consultation. It was reasonable maybe that Boris didn’t personally respond as he doesn’t live in the area.

    Our council put in a formal response. It cost us £56K. It is not reasonable to expect the GLA to put in formal responses to every health consultation in London unless you want it to spend many £100Ks doing so. Oversight of health delivery is simply not in the GLA’s remit. Councils do have a statutory role on the other hand.

    The Tories in general are doing a bad job in reminding people that these NHS reconfigurations drop straight out of the £20 billion Nicholson Challenge which was a Labour policy that the Tories simply maintained. We should rename it the Burnham Challenge! Boris did point out that many of the ideas in the consultation drop out of the work of Ara Darzi. Sahota’s unwillingness to admit to the provenance of these ideas, and indeed the financial envelope, demonstrate that he has totally stopped being a man of reason, indeed he is being unreasonable. He is not suggesting any kind of solution into which he might reasonably be expected to have insights. He is saying everything must remain the same. That is simply not credible.

  3. Andrew Arnison says:

    Phil, Eric
    This will be my last post on hospitals because I’m confident I’m boring everyone, including myself.

    I’m baffled as to why any politician would want to politicise operational decisions made by the NHS. Surely it’s easier to play a straight bat and say that these decisions are the remit of the NHS and defer public concern towards the deep reservoir of goodwill the public have for the NHS. This seems to be Boris’ approach.

    We talk about waste with the “Ealing altogether” brochure, but how much as been spend has Ealing Council wasted with the “SOH” campaign? I count brochures, huge banners on the Council building, advertisements on the sides of buses, websites, Twitter sites, logo design fees etc. I bet this spend comes to more than £40k. And for what? To argue against a change that the Ealing Hospital Trust themselves support. http://www.ealinghospital.nhs.uk

    Ealing Council should stick to its knitting and focus on managing functions under its budgetary remit and stop pretending it runs the health service.

    By the way my morning routine now takes me past Northfields GP surgery each morning at around 8:15. There have been at least 10 people queuing up outside in the street every weekday morning for the last two weeks. I’d invite you to take a walk past at this time to see for yourself. What’s it going to be like in January?

  4. Phil says:

    Andrew,

    The details of Ealing’s spend on this are in Section 4 here:

    http://www.ealing.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/1280/item_7-shaping_a_healthier_future

    The council is pretty transparent at the end of the day. £56K was spent on the Rideout report. £45K on various bits of publicity and £10K on expenses associated with the Ealing Common rally.

    The council does have a statutory duty to scrutinise NHS changes so the £56K is not that hard to justify. The other £55K was better spent I think than the £40K of self-promotion involved in the Altogether better campaign. I would rather the council had used its spend to drive consultation responses more directly. The local Conservatives put a lot of work into encouraging the 15,500 who responded to the consultation and will feel that the effort was worthwhile I think.

  5. Emily says:

    Questions on bus designs are relevant to a lot of people. When you spend several hours a week squashed on public transport these things matter. I often see mums unable to get on buses because there’s not enough space for buggies.

  6. Andrew Arnison says:

    Phil,
    Seen this one?
    http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/local-ealing-news/2012/10/23/ealing-campaigners-join-anti-cuts-protest-in-london-64767-32088323/
    This is the bit I find galling. The bipartisan SOH campaign fails to cover any element of health care reform for Ealing and instead prefers to focus on promoting a pro-union, anti “austerity” agenda. It really bothers me that council rates have been spent on such a politicised campaign with the blessing of all council parties.
    Andrew

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